Aerial Lift Maintenance Tips and Checklist
When your crew needs to access their work at heights or needs to work for extended periods overhead, you need reliable, high-performing aerial lifts. Aerial lifts are invaluable pieces of job site equipment, so properly maintaining them is critical to keeping a highly productive work environment.
Our aerial lift maintenance guide discusses the different types of aerial lifts and why it’s important to conduct preventative maintenance for aerial lifts. Whether you own a scissor lift or a boom lift, follow our aerial lift maintenance checklist to protect your equipment and your personnel.
Common Types of Aerial Lifts
Different types of aerial lifts have different maintenance and safety considerations, so it’s important to know how each type differentiates. Broadly speaking, aerial lifts are distinct in their functionality, with two main types:
- Scissor lifts: Scissor lifts are exclusively vertical lifts that extend up to 50 feet high. With a wider working platform, scissor lifts can accommodate multiple workers at a time.
- Boom lifts: Powered by a hydraulic arm, boom lifts allow workers to access hard-to-reach spaces at heights of up to 80 feet. Boom lifts typically only have a one-worker capacity.
You can also categorize aerial lifts by their power source:
- Hydraulic: Powered by pressurized hydraulic fluid that’s activated by a small engine
- Electric: Powered by stored electricity in a battery
- Diesel, gasoline and propane: Powered by internal combustion engines fueled by either diesel, gasoline or, less commonly, propane
Finally, you can distinguish between aerial lifts by the type of tires they’re equipped with:
- Pneumatic tires: A metal hub with rubber tires filled with air or foam to achieve the desired pressure level
- Rough-terrain tires: Equipped with rugged wheels meant for outdoor and off-road conditions
The Importance of Proper Aerial Lift Maintenance
Proper aerial lift maintenance is a matter of safety. Having an adequate aerial lift maintenance plan in place is also an issue of productivity and financial control. Maintenance protocols help crews keep production streamlined and benefit a company’s bottom line.
When you implement an aerial lift maintenance plan, you can expect the following benefits:
- Reduce operating costs: Maintaining and repairing aerial lifts regularly requires an ongoing investment. But the amount of money equipment owners put into maintenance can save them on significant repairs down the road. Investing in aerial lift preventative maintenance reduces the risk of sudden, expensive repairs you may not be prepared for.
- Increase productivity: Having a streamlined aerial lift inspection and maintenance checklist helps maximize productivity. By having a plan in place, crews can operate more efficiently and avoid time-consuming repairs and maintenance concerns.
- Decrease downtime: Improper maintenance leads to unexpected breakdowns, creating downtime in your project’s schedule while the equipment sits in the shop. During this time, businesses need to find replacement equipment on a short-term basis. By keeping on top of maintenance, you can keep your project on time.
- Maximize equipment return on investment (ROI): When you invest in aerial lifts, you want to get the most out of your investment. Properly maintained machines can operate smoother, longer and more reliably. By taking care of your equipment, you can extend its service life and maximize its resale value if you ever want to trade it in or buy a different machine.
- Improve workplace safety: On work sites, safety is the top priority, and crews need to know they can depend on their machinery to operate properly. Well-maintained equipment is safer and at a much lower risk of sudden failure.
Aerial Lift Maintenance Checklist
To stay on top of either boom lift maintenance or scissor lift maintenance, owners and operators should follow inspection checklists to ensure they address and inspect every essential component regularly. Maintenance checklists keep crews on top of maintenance needs to prevent larger problems down the road.
When thinking about aerial lift maintenance, there are three types of issues to look at:
- Operational: Whether the controls and systems are functioning properly
- Structural: Physical damage or issues with the machine’s components
- Work zone: Surrounding work site hazards that can damage the equipment
Below are all the items to consider as part of your aerial lift maintenance checklist.
Daily inspections are an integral part of proper aerial lift maintenance. They help operators identify critical issues before they become significant and costly problems.
Conducting daily inspections streamlines maintenance work by taking care of small issues on an ongoing basis rather than having lots of repairs and maintenance issues to perform later when they become more time-consuming.
Operators should conduct daily inspections of the vehicle, lift and engine. Both pre- and post-operation checklists help operators organize the inspection items and conduct maintenance in the most efficient way possible. How frequently you conduct inspections and the types of items on your daily inspection list may vary depending on the machine’s typical working conditions.
Operators should begin inspection and maintenance tasks starting with the machine’s operation, with basic inspection items including:
- Steering and brake systems
- Clean control panel
- Readable safety decals, warnings and placards
- Drive and lift controls
- Motion alarms and horns
- Operating and emergency controls
- Safety indicators
When conducting these inspections, it’s critical not to ignore control panel warning lights. When a warning signal comes on, advise a technician who can investigate the source of the issue. Dealing with warning lights reduces the risk of parts failure and prevents serious injury or damage.
Create an operations inspection checklist to use daily or as frequently as needed. Keep records on file to refer to later on if major repairs are needed.
Exterior inspections are vital for safety and proper equipment functioning. When conducting an exterior inspection, consider the following items as a top priority:
- Cracks, leaks and damage
- Fluid levels
- Emergency lowering function
- Upper drive control interlocks
- Guards, rails and basket chain
- Platform gate and extension slides
- Tire pressure and wheels
During exterior inspections, keep an eye out for physical damage like dents or weld cracks, as well as leaks from oil, fuel or other fluids.
Visual exterior inspections should also take into account the state of the lift mechanisms and platforms. Investigate the scissor arms or boom components, as well as the basket or platform parts, including guardrails and gates.
Engine and Battery Checks
After conducting visual inspections and correcting any checklist items, operators should then focus on engine check items. The most significant engine inspection item is checking oil levels. Below are other critical tips for maintaining your aerial lift’s engine and battery:
- Ensure engine fluids are topped up and there are no leaks
- For battery-powered lifts, check the battery status and take care of battery concerns, such as adding water if required
- Inspect hydraulic systems, air systems, fuel levels or electrical systems, depending on the lift type
Ongoing engine spot cleaning is essential to preventing fluid contamination, which erodes parts and causes premature wear and eventual parts or systems failures. Clean the area around the fluid ports regularly and be sure to only use fluid recommended by the manufacturer.
It’s important that maintenance protocols include the requirement to report any issues that operators can’t repair. Operators should report concerns through the correct channels right away to ensure equipment issues get addressed before they become bigger problems.
Work Zone Factors
Equipment maintenance duties can extend beyond the equipment itself to the surrounding work zone. Environmental hazards pose a risk to the equipment and the operator and should be inspected regularly to prevent damage or injury.
Below are some of the top work zone maintenance items to perform routinely:
- Clean up debris, spills or materials on the ground
- Notice uneven terrain, such as slopes, drop-offs or potholes
- Observe overhead obstructions, such as power lines, branches and building overhangs or other structures
- Be prepared for severe weather, such as rain, wind or snow
- Use caution on slippery and unstable surfaces
- Record potential visual obstructions and blind spots
Before operating an aerial lift, conduct a visual inspection of your surroundings and resolve any of the above hazards before beginning work. When operators are unable to resolve hazards themselves, they should report concerns to site supervisors immediately.
An important part of routine equipment maintenance is making sure to keep the machine clean. Aerial lifts, whether used indoors or outdoors, need to be regularly washed and cleaned, removing built-up dust, dirt and grime.
Cleaning the exterior of the equipment prevents rust damage and paint erosion, and aerial lift interior cleanings promote better hygiene and health and safety. Regularly cleaning parts and components in the engine, hydraulic systems and lift mechanisms can also help ensure the machine continues to function adequately, preventing premature wear on key parts like seals and bearings.
Preventative Maintenance Planning
Preventative maintenance is the key to reducing long-term repair costs, extending the service life of your aerial lift and maximizing its value. Overall, you should follow the prescribed preventative maintenance schedule set by the manufacturer. Regular servicing should occur at set intervals based on the number of operating hours.
Businesses should keep track of upcoming servicing and parts replacement milestones and plan accordingly. Remember that servicing equipment requires it to be out of operation for a set time. So, you should plan to schedule equipment servicing when the machine isn’t needed or when an alternative equipment solution is available, such as from a rental provider.
Keeping a paper trail of all your maintenance activities is a proactive way to ensure you’re maintaining your equipment properly. Records keep track of the causes of certain issues so you can file warranty claims or anticipate future repair problems. If the equipment is involved in a workplace incident, having detailed records can help support your legal case if workers’ compensation or other insurance claims arise.
Today, businesses can rely on equipment maintenance software to help them keep track of all servicing activities, schedule upcoming servicing and plan for downtime and maintenance costs. Having a convenient way to record all maintenance activities saves business owners time and effort and reduces errors.
Aerial Lift Maintenance and Safety Tips
Since aerial lift maintenance and safety go hand in hand, it’s critical to know the potential safety concerns involved in improper maintenance habits. When owning and operating an aerial lift, understand some of the most common types of safety hazards associated with this type of equipment.
Below are the top safety risks of operating an aerial lift:
- Falls: Given that aerial lifts are designed to lift personnel to heights, it’s critical to follow aerial lift service requirements to prevent incidents like falls. Falls can occur when the lift’s guardrails fail, sometimes due to improperly secured and maintained safety controls.
- Tip-overs: Improperly stabilizing or counter-balancing the lift can lead to it tipping over. Check that all controls, tires and lift mechanisms are properly working to ensure stability or prevent hitting other nearby objects.
- Electrocutions: Workers operating aerial lifts are also at risk of electrocution when they accidentally contact overhead power cables. Ensuring your lift controls are properly functioning and well-maintained can prevent the risk of accidentally contacting electrical lines.
To prevent the above safety hazards, know the necessary steps to take to minimize the risk of accidents. Follow the below aerial lift safety tips to protect all personnel who work with or around aerial lifts:
- Know and follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards: OSHA sets aerial lift safety standards, as well as aerial lift maintenance requirements that ensure businesses are compliant. To increase work site safety, familiarize yourself with the OSHA standards for aerial lifts.
- Maintain and repair with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts: When conducting aerial lift maintenance, use OEM parts, which are genuine parts approved by the manufacturer. This measure can improve the quality of the machine’s performance, and it also protects your investment if you need to file warranty claims.
- Invest in operator training: To keep the work site as safe as possible, invest in training for equipment operators. Equipment operators should learn to follow safety protocols, and they should be trained to conduct maintenance inspections so they can identify potential safety issues with the machine.
- Have an emergency plan: While you can do everything possible to properly train operators and follow tight maintenance standards, emergencies still happen. Having an emergency plan in place that instructs operators on how to handle certain situations can help protect the health and safety of workers. It can also protect the equipment and surrounding structures from damage.
Contact Wheeler Machinery Co. for Aerial Lift Maintenance and Servicing
Maximize your investment in your aerial lifts by following a preventative maintenance plan. Aerial lift maintenance is critical to ensuring high performance and longevity from your machine and protecting your crew’s safety. When you need to partner with a reliable aerial lift maintenance expert, choose Wheeler Machinery Co.
Contact Wheeler Machinery Co. today to learn more about our service and maintenance offerings. If you’re ready to schedule your aerial lift maintenance, you can request a service appointment with our technicians. If you have questions about working with us, give us a call at 801-974-0511 or visit a Wheeler Machinery Co. location near you.